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DigiSus research platform seeks a fertile common ground for digital and sustainable transitions – apply for seed funding now!

Published on 29.4.2024
Tampere Universities
People listening on the academic director giving a talk.
Photo: Jonne Renvall
Digital and Sustainability Transitions in Society: A Double-edged Sword (DigiSus) research platform aims to create holistic and cross-disciplinary insights into the sustainability and digitalization megatrends. DigiSus brings together experts across research traditions, offers funding for research, and works with the industry and wider society for a brighter future. Application period for DigiSus seed funding is open until 6th May.

The DigiSus research platform, starting its work in January 2024, seeks to understand the interplay of sustainable and digital transitions that are rapidly changing our world. These intertwined transitions are typically researched separately and often intuitively thought to complement each other. However, this collaboration is not as rosy as it might seem. 

Digitalization offers unique sustainability considerations, opportunities, and challenges that are easily overlooked. This cross-section of megatrends is in desperate need of more research for these transitions to live up to their potential.

“Both the digital transition and sustainable development call for diverse viewpoints and they influence everybody, which makes this area perfect for a cross-disciplinary and strategic research platform at Tampere University”, explains professor Thomas Olsson, the academic director of the DigiSus research platform.

As there has been no previous network or research center in Tampere University delving into these themes, the first step for DigiSus is to bring people together to form a community. By bridging diverse people and their expertise, the platform hopes to both pinpoint fruitful research themes and foster novel collaborations.

”Tampere University hosts all the necessary fields of expertise to foster scientific renewal, ranging from software engineering, electronics and design research to science and technology studies, behavioral sciences and economics.” he continues. 

Community input to plan future activities

In the past months, DigiSus has organized three kick-off workshops to start their work. The events offered presentations from Tampere University researchers and relevant industry actors, and workshop activities to ideate further possible actions for the new research platform. The kickoff events gathered around 100 people to discuss and network – some joining all three events to push the platform forward. 

People adding post-it notes to a board in DigiSUs kickoffPhoto: Jonne Renvall

“The workshops both reinforced and challenged our own assumptions on what would benefit the growing community. In addition to receiving plenty of useful insights for the platform activities, the best outcome was that people made new connections and engaged in discussions with well-thought constructive criticism”, says project manager Kirsikka Kaipainen, one of the two coordinators of DigiSus.

The platform is now creating an action plan with its newly appointed management board for the platform’s initial four-year run. DigiSus has launched its website and compiles there also easy access resources, like podcasts, for people interested in the digital and sustainable transitions and their intermingling. The platform is also hosting a LinkedIn page where they highlight exciting research already conducted in this field in Tampere Universities community and to create awareness on DigiSus issues. The research platform has also launched its first seed funding, a form of support that will be continued in upcoming years.

"We believe that seed funding is important for the whole community, both researchers and practitioners, by funding both new research openings and community impact. However, we also hope to make an impact in other ways. As a research platform, we aim to bring together people and ideas, help researchers in reaching a broader audience, and by these create new opportunities for our community members", notes associate professor Sanna Kumpulainen, the vice academic director of the platform.

The next steps include creation of an expert and project bank around DigiSus themes, developing a glossary work to define key concepts in this area, and organizing events and activities to boost community building and project preparation.

Seed funding for scientific openings and community impact open until 6th May

DigiSus has launched its first seed funding for project preparation, community building activities, initiating new collaborations, or other research and development activities. The call offers two tracks for funding: scientific openings and community impact. The estimated funding pool for this call is 100 000 euros and the call is open until 6th May.

“Typically, the best ideas require time to mature and consideration of multiple viewpoints. We hope that the DigiSus seed funding would inspire the initiation of ambitious and wacky ideas and allow the birth of new, unexpected research collaborations”, notes the academic director Thomas Olsson.

The funded projects and activities will be announced in June 2024.

Author: Matias Nurminen